Exhibition Review: Eva O'leary at Meyohas
By Isabella Weiss
There are bars over a model’s photo-edited face. This image is printed on the frosting of a square slice of cake. As an image within an image, it is one of the many references to digital and commercial personas in Eva O’leary’s photographic exhibition at Meyohas. The bars over the model’s face are the wires of a fridge shelf. Just like an Instagram photo, the frosted face is an image that was created in order to be consumed, that exists in a context of consumption both addictive and cage-like. Along with the cake slice in the fridge, a few other food packaging logos are included in O’leary’s image. The edited face is just one of these logos; her image is an ad, an identity manipulated for its appeal in the online social market.
An infant lies on (floats in) a reversed context: his ground is the sky reflected on a mirror. The infant lies with his back to his own reflection. He is duplicated in abstract space, surrounded by sky in both directions. The infant is, like all infants today, born with his image on a social media page. He must grapple with the divide between his physical reality and the public presence of his representation. O’leary represents a child that is born into a split existence and world.
The image of an identity split between original and display is again represented in O’leary’s portrait of a young woman. Her face is half made-up and the line between natural and belied skin tones is visible. Because she exposes her decorated half to the camera, the eye without makeup is itself denigrated in shadow. It is her unmasked side that is truly hidden from the public eye.
Eva O’leary’s exhibition at Meyohas is about the pervasive cultural influence of commercial imagery and how, in the midst of this pervasiveness, the personal and commercial are starting to blend in our vision. While there is nothing explicitly commercial captured in her images, their crisp focus and rigid color scheme evoke corporate ads. Eva O’leary’s work functions like a social media platform. In her images, the body becomes a hashtag and life a logo for life.